Towards Ultimate Convergence of All Networks (TOUCAN)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Abstract

Global demand for broadband communications continues to increase substantially every year. A major factor contributing to this demand is the growing number of fixed and mobile broadband users, data-hungry applications like video as well as an ever-increasing number of network-connected everyday objects and machines. It is forecast that by 2020 the number of network-connected devices will reach 1000 times the world's population while data volumes transported over networks will progressively grow to Zettabytes and upwards.

These trends pose entirely new challenges related to data volume, granularity, end-to-end connectivity and reach as well as increasing heterogeneity in network technologies (i.e. wireless and wired), networked-connected devices (i.e. sensors, mobile phones, computers, TVs, Data Centres) and services (i.e. Tbps data transfer for e-science, ultra-low latency financial transaction, real-time media streaming, kbps for sensor-based monitoring). Addressing these challenges necessitates radically new network models supporting convergence of traditionally separate network technology domains and offering high flexibility and adaptability in data granularity and throughput.

TOUCAN aims to achieve ultimate network convergence enabled by a radically new technology agnostic architecture targeting a wide range of applications and end users. This architecture will facilitate optimal interconnection of any network technology domains, networked devices and data sets with high flexibility, resource and energy efficiency, and will aim to satisfy the full range of Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE) requirements.

TOUCAN will realise its goals by including the network infrastructure and its control as part of the end-to-end service delivery chain. Important enablers will be that of separating the data and control planes, which will rely on Software Defined Networking (SDN) principles. TOUCAN will drastically evolve SDN to incorporate fundamentally new technology-specific interfacing and resource description followed by infrastructure resource abstraction, virtualisation and programmability. These features will enable any network technology and device to become "TOUCAN-ready" which means that the devices are programmable and interoperable. This is the foundation upon which the technology-agnostic feature of the TOUCAN architecture will be realized; thereby ultimate seamless end-to-end convergence will be achieved.

TOUCAN will revolutionize the way we build and operate communication networks in a similar way that computer networks and more recently mobile terminals were transformed from platform-oriented to platform-agnostic solutions (e.g. through Linux and Android) and will drive towards commoditisation of network devices. Any new technology generation, regardless whether wired or wireless, will connect to the TOUCAN network in a plug-and-play fashion.

Our research will open up a new network innovation eco-system, which will allow for the first time applications to compose, deploy and program their own virtual network infrastructures, as part of the service delivery mechanism to optimally support their specific and very diverse requirements. Such an environment will be able to adapt to challenging and unpredictable infrastructure and service evolution scenarios, meeting future application requirements.

This highly challenging £12M project will bring together an Internationally renowned team of academics for a period of 5 years, allowing in depth technical exploration based on holistic and radical thinking in order to achieve the project goals. 58 person years of postdoctoral researcher time are requested for TOUCAN while the Universities have allocated a further 30 person years or more of PhD students. The TOUCAN consortium includes an impressive list of external partners who collectively are committing critical and tangible resources in excess of £3.6M.

Planned Impact

TOUCAN aims to generate significant impact to Industry, the academic community and the general public.

The most direct impact will target the Programme Industrial Partners (BROADCOM, BT, NEC, Plextek, and Samsung). All Programme Partners have been engaged in the shaping of the TOUCAN vision, which they consider to be critical for their future technology roadmaps, as demonstrated by the significant amount of resources committed to the project (see attached letters). It is expected that new industrial partners will join the initial team as the research unfolds and TOUCAN is being established as a world-leading research project.

Industrial partners will benefit from having direct insight into the TOUCAN developments and they will be encouraged to provide advice regarding exploitation (i.e. through universities spin-out companies). In addition, our partners will host PDRAs in their premises and therefore have opportunities to guide the research and leverage skills developed within the project.

To engage the wider industrial sector, we plan a series of 5 Industrial Workshops during the Programme lifetime. To ensure broad industrial participation in these events, we will work closely with the Strategic Advisory Board (SAB: BBC, IBM, DoCoMo, Deutsche Telekom, iMinds, i2CAT, University of Leeds) and fora such as the ICT-KTN, the Local Enterprise Parnerships, Mobile VCE, GreenTouch, and EU technology platforms (e.g. Net!Works and Photonics21).

A further key activity to achieving sustainable impact will be contributions to industry standards (e.g. ITU-T, ETSI, IETF, TMF) and to a number of new SDN-focused standard bodies in which we will engage, including ONF, Open Daylight and Open Stack. Where standards and specification gaps exist we will look to initiate new standards or even create new working groups.

Technology demonstrations in the TOUCAN Lab will be another focal point for dissemination and impact. The TOUCAN Lab will offer an open ecosystem for broad experimentation among researchers, industry, service and content providers and users. Our goal is to build an active user group of our platforms and experimental infrastructure by making prototypes available under an open source license. We plan to utilize the close relationship with Watershed (http://www.watershed.co.uk) to reach user groups (i.e. creative and media industries) and communities (i.e. education) that can consume TOUCAN services and engage them through the Bristol City Council test network to demonstrate the benefits of the new technology platforms. Collaborative TOUCAN implementations, development of use cases, proof of concept testing will provide user groups and industry with instruments for exploring the theoretical and practical aspects of TOUCAN and make them advocates of the Programme vision.

The consortium will also build an array of activities targeting academic impact as described in "Academic Beneficiaries". In addition, TOUCAN will be an excellent platform for attracting and training PhD students and contribute to the longer-term needs of the industry by helping to develop much needed skills for the UK companies and the wider technology and research sector.

Our public engagement activities will align with both EPSRC's and the Universities' plans for delivering public impact. Academic teams will be supported to engage as STEM ambassadors for schools, community science events and also engaging with existing 'Headstart' activities. As the programme advances, we will aim to contribute to events such as the annual National Science and Engineering Week and Royal Society Summer Exhibition.

Throughout the Programme, we will work with the University Press Officers to develop press releases, which will announce relevant notable events and major scientific and/or commercial progress.

TOUCAN's outreach and impact targets will be delivered under the leadership of Prof Harald Haas who will be supported by the TOUCAN Project Manager.
 
Description We have just completed the three years of this 5 year project.

New technology resource description and abstraction models have been developed driving the cloudification of the network infrastructure. Key new innovations include software defined control for wireless technologies (WiFi, LTE, LiFi, MMIMO) as well as advanced optical technologies. Orchestration solution for intelligent end-to-end service automation have been demonstrated. The world's first Machine Learning integration with SDN control has been proposed and verified using the National Dark Fibre Infrastructure. The TOUCAN lab has been established allowing distributed experimentation across the 4 Universities partnership
Exploitation Route Yes, we are communicating our findings through conference presentations to the research community and industry
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)

 
Description It led to the creation of the spin out company: Zeetta Networks. TOUCAN also played a significant role in informing the UK strategy and subsequent funding on 5G Testbeds and Trials. Bristol has been one of the three UK Universities awarded funding to design, deploy and demonstrate an end-to-end 5G testbed by end of March'18. The Bristol testbed utilised many of the TOUCAN technologies including open hardware platform for convergence, multi-technology SDN controller and service orchestration solution.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description 5G PPP View on 5G Architecture (White Paper)
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL http://5g-ppp.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/5G-PPP-5G-Architecture-White-Paper-Jan-2018-v2.0.pdf
 
Description Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
URL http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/future-telecoms-infrastructure-review
 
Description UK5G Testbeds & Trials Programme
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL http://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/65226...
 
Description 5G City
Amount € 6,000,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Union 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2017 
End 01/2020
 
Description 5G PICTURE
Amount € 8,000,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Union 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2017 
End 01/2020
 
Description 5G UK Test-bed
Amount £16,000,000 (GBP)
Organisation Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2017 
End 03/2018
 
Description 5G in Fire
Amount € 5,400,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Union 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2017 
End 01/2020
 
Description 5G-VICTORI
Amount € 920,375 (EUR)
Funding ID EC 857201 
Organisation European Commission H2020 
Sector Public
Country Belgium
Start 06/2019 
End 06/2022
 
Description FLAME
Amount € 6,900,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Union 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2017 
End 01/2020
 
Description Futebol
Amount € 1,500,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Union 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 05/2016 
End 05/2019
 
Description Matilda
Amount € 5,400,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Union 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2017 
End 01/2020
 
Description MetroHaul
Amount € 7,800,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Union 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2017 
End 01/2020
 
Description UNIQORN
Amount € 9,979,905 (EUR)
Funding ID 820474 
Organisation European Union 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 10/2018 
End 10/2021
 
Description University of Espirito Santo (UFES) 
Organisation Federal University of Espírito Santo
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Two visiting professors from University of Espirito Santo (UFES) working on SDN control frame work, NFV and use cases of TOUCAN project
Collaborator Contribution Joint publication on SDN control frame work, NFV for optic and packet network convergence . Development of a 5G use case for TOUCAN
Impact Publications: Trois, C., Bona, L. C., Del Fabro, M. D., Martinello, M., Bidkar, S., Nejabati, R. [20%]., Simeonidou, D., "Softening Up the Network for Scientific Applications",in Proc. Of 25th Euromicro International Conference on Parallel, Distributed, and Network-Based Processing (PDP 2017): March 2017,
Start Year 2017
 
Company Name Zeetta Networks 
Description Zeetta Networks is a spin-out company from the University of Bristol developing and marketing Open Networking solutions for heterogeneous networks based on Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) principles. 
Year Established 2015 
Impact The company's main product is NetOS®, a Network Operating System which offers a "USB-like", plug-n-play management of all connected network devices and enables the construction of virtual "network slices" (i.e. separate logically-isolated sub-networks) for the deployment of B2B or B2C services such as Ultra-HD video distribution, City-wide Wi-Fi, Internet of Things (IoT) and M2M deployments, etc.
Website http://www.zeetta.com
 
Description 2018 International Workshop on Next Generation Green Wireless Networks (Next-GWiN 2018), University of Sheffield 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Next GWiN 2018 is the latest in a series of successful, international workshops that focus on the state of the art in the field of green communications. 5G is fast becoming a tangible technology with first deployments being prepared and the standard taking a clear shape. With new ambitious goals and high data rates of 5G, energy issues are now more important than ever. Attended by Dr Yu Fu (Heriot-Watt University).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.next-gwin.org/
 
Description 5G Layered Realities (March 2018) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Over the weekend of 17th - 18th March 2018, the University of Bristol's Smart Internet Lab hosted the world's first 5G public showcase in Millennium Square, Bristol. Demonstrations, talks and artistic experimentation combined in an exciting blend of technology and expression. This event ran in conjunction with Watershed & We The Curious.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.bristol.ac.uk/engineering/research/smart/events/layered-realities-weekend/
 
Description Baguette: Towards end-to-end service orchestration in heterogeneous networks 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact bstract-Network services are the key mechanism for operators
to introduce intelligence and generate profit from their
infrastructures. The growth of the number of network users
and the stricter application network requirements have highlighted
a number of challenges in orchestrating services using
existing production management and configuration protocols
and mechanisms. Recent networking paradigms like Software
Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization
(NFV), provide a set of novel control and management interfaces
that enable unprecedented automation, flexibility and openness
capabilities in operator infrastructure management. This paper
presents Baguette, a novel and open service orchestration framework
for operators. Baguette supports a wide range of network
technologies, namely optical and wired Ethernet technologies, and
allows service providers to automate the deployment and dynamic
re-optimization of network services. We present the design of the
orchestrator and elaborate on the integration of Baguette with
existing low-level network and cloud management frameworks
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description IEEE 5G Summit Glasgow 2018, The University of Strathclyde 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact In 2015, the IEEE Communications Society developed a 5G strategic framework based on the principles that embrace Industry's interests and priorities while integrating IEEE and ComSoc's objectives. In order to engage industry members with high value and innovative technologies, IEEE Communications Society is organising a series of global high impact one day Summits in relevant technology areas (e.g., SDN/NFV, 5G, IoT, Big Data, Cybersecurity, and so on).

The first IEEE 5G Summit was held at Princeton University in May 2015, and has been followed by a global series of follow-on events. The 5G Summit in Glasgow, Scotland was held at the University of Strathclyde on Monday, May 14th 2018. This one day summit provided a platform for attendees from industry, academia, and government office and agencies to collaborate and exchange ideas in this emerging technology. The objectives of this Glasgow event were to provide a platform to educate, integrate and elucidate the various communities to support the evolution of standards and systems leading to the rapid deployment of new technologies and potentially new business models for 5G. Attended by Dr Yu Fu (Heriot-Watt University).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Participation in the ITU Focus Group on Technologies for Network 2030 - Lancaster University 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The Focus Group, intends to study the capabilities of networks for the year 2030 and beyond, when it is expected to support novel forward-looking scenarios, such as holographic type communications, extremely fast response in critical situations and high-precision communication demands of emerging market verticals. The study aims to answer specific questions on what kinds of network architecture and the enabling mechanisms are suitable for such novel scenarios.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/focusgroups/net2030/Pages/default.aspx
 
Description TOUCAN Industrial Showcase Event, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presented the industry and academic impact of TOUCAN's research innovations and solutions.

The audience comprised of the TOUCAN academic team from the University of Bristol, University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University and Lancaster University, TOUCAN's industrial partners, and also representatives from a wider industrial sector.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018